I am a mid-career scientist at a government research organisation, and I am considering a move back into academia. My current employer is looking after me very well and I know I am valued, but I have a hankering for more intellectual freedom and more opportunity to work with students, especially graduate students. I've enjoyed the little bit of teaching that I have done.
I have 15 years post-PhD experience and have reached a fairly senior level - equivalent to a level D academic in Australia (perhaps equivalent to a newish full professor in the US). But I have much less teaching experience and a lower h-index than I would expect from an academic at my level. (My h-index is 14 and I am in the environmental sciences). Instead, I have spent a lot of time working closely with clients and government departments, managing people and large projects within my organisation, and working to demonstrate the real-world impact of my applied research. In short: my current employer has asked slightly different things of me than a university would. If I move back into academia, will these things be valued, or should I expect to take a demotion initially?
Finally, I am considering applying for a fixed-term (3 year) full professorship that I have recently seen advertised in a nearby research-intensive university. This would be a promotion if I were successful, but would come with a loss of job security. How would this be viewed on my CV if I were looking for another academic position in 3 years' time? Better or worse than staying where I am for those three years, and getting an internal promotion later?